NORTH OGDEN — The death of a patient from a South Ogden nursing home while awaiting a COVID-19 test at a North Ogden clinic has health officials advising those experiencing serious symptoms to seek care at an emergency room.
A 71-year-old man who was a patient at Mountain View Health Services, a South Ogden nursing home, died Sunday while awaiting a coronavirus test at the outdoor testing facility at North Ogden Clinic.
“When the nursing facility’s van reached the testing tent after less than a 45-minute wait, their patient was unresponsive, cold to the touch and appeared to be deceased. Testing center caregivers acted quickly and followed correct procedures by immediately calling 911, but EMS workers could not revive the individual,” Intermountain Healthcare, which operates the North Ogden Clinic, said in a statement.
Reps from Mountain View, which isn’t affiliated with Intermountain Healthcare, didn’t immediately respond to queries Tuesday seeking comment. The man was accompanied by a Mountain View caretaker and driver, according to Intermountain Healthcare, which identified the nursing home.
Paramedics from the North View Fire District responded to a call made 10:48 a.m. Sunday to the incident. The man had suffered cardiac respiratory arrest, according to Jeremiah Jones, deputy chief for the fire district. He identified the victim’s age, 71, and gender, male, but couldn’t provide additional identifying details due to privacy laws.
“He didn’t have a heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing on his own,” Jones said.
Heart problems, lung disease, COVID-19 and more can potentially cause cardiac respiratory arrest, he said, but he doesn’t know what happened in the case of the man. “We really don’t know. We just treat the symptoms we see,” Jones said.
Due to privacy laws, Brad Gillman, spokesman for Intermountain Healthcare, couldn’t say whether the man had contracted the COVID-19 virus or had COVID-19 symptoms.
The North Ogden Clinic is one of a handful of centers set up in Weber County to handle those in the area seeking coronavirus testing. It’s a drive-through facility, with a tent where the testing occurs set up in the clinic’s parking lot. Patients remain in their cars while awaiting testing.
Other testing locations in Weber County include the Midtown Community Health Clinic in Ogden and Ogden Regional Medical Center in Washington Terrace, which runs a drive-through facility in conjunction with TestUtah.
The wait time on Sunday for coronavirus testing at the North Ogden Clinic averaged less than 45 minutes, according to the Intermountain Healthcare statement. “At the time, the testing center was fully staffed, and the number of people seeking testing is significantly lower on a Sunday,” said the statement.
More people typically seek testing on Monday and Tuesday, according to Gillman, and on Tuesday at around 12:30 p.m. there were 34 cars lined up at the site, with passengers and motorists inside awaiting tests. The line extended onto 2300 North outside the site.
“The wait times fluctuate by day and by times of the day. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays do see more volume due to people needing pre-procedure COVID tests for surgeries by the end of the week for example,” Gillman said.
Though specific circumstances and other details of the condition of man’s condition haven’t been released, the situation prompted calls to use emergency healthcare facilities in emergency situations.
“Anyone who is seriously ill should call 911 for help or go directly to a hospital emergency room, not to a COVID-19 drive-through testing center,” Intermountain Healthcare said.
Lori Buttars, spokeswoman for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, echoed that. “Anyone who is experiencing serious COVID-19 symptoms or other illness should call 911 or go to the nearest ER,” she said.
Utah Department of Health spokeswoman Jenny Johnson said officials can’t provide any information specific to Sunday’s incident. But the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner will likely look into the death, she said.